Every now and then – and it’s getting less and less of an occurrence these days, let me tell you, an album comes along that just makes complete sense. Everything about it seems right, from start to finish, because every final detail has been thought about, executed to perfection and then finessed to a high, gleaming sheen that can’t fail to attract and excite.
Just such an album has just been released by young Canadian guns Striker, who’s fourth full-length album, Stand in the Fire, stands as one of the great achievements of modern traditional heavy metal. The band don’t put a foot wrong anywhere on the record, so it was a pleasure to be able to speak to Tim Brown, the band’s shredmungous lead guitarist, for a little while about the process of putting together such a titanic slab of metallic brilliance…
When I catch up with Brown he’s sitting in an airport (beer in hand, natch), eagerly awaiting the flight which will signal the start of the band’s first tour of metal-hungry Mexico. However he is of course happy to shoot the breeze with Sentinel Daily about this momentous album. It seems to me that this is not only a progression from but also the culmination of where you’ve been heading on the last couple of albums (2012’s Armed to the Teeth and 2014’s City of Gold, both superb albums in their own right); Would that be the case do you think? “We’ve got to the point where we just try and write the best songs we can. For this album we had thirty songs written, and, instead of moulding it too much we just said, what are the best songs? And we just used those. We recorded at home this time too, which helps. You can just do what you want, when you want that way!”
Thirty songs? I’ve been in bands for years that haven’t come up with that many in a whole career, let alone for one album. So when you say thirty songs, do you mean thirty whole songs? Or thirty ideas for songs? “No. Thirty songs, everyone brings their songs in. Then we might take the riff from one song and try it with the melody from another because we think they might work well, but yes, it’s really thirty finished songs”.
An fabulous work ethic! Personally, I hear less thrash (although the album definitely does spark remembrance of Anthrax’s breakthrough Spreading the Disease album to these tired old ears), and less of the NWoBHM influence too on this record. Was that a ‘by design’ product of the writing process or merely an organic progression to what you’ve been working towards? “Not really anything designed. We just write the best songs we can. Maybe there’s a bit more AOR-type material on this record”.
The record has been out for a few weeks now- are you pleased with the response to it so far? “The response has been amazing, everyone we’ve talked to about it has been very supportive. If there have been any bad reviews we haven’t seen them or they’ve been kept away from us!”
You’ve just finished a European Tour with Primal Fear and Brainstorm. How did that go? “It was amazing! And again both those bands were very supportive. We had a blast playing. And we had people coming up to us afterwards saying we were their favourite band of the night which is always great! It’s always a good sign too when you have to call your local distributor during a tour to get more merch delivered because everything’s selling out!”
Those two bands are very much in the Euro power metal tradition, aren’t they? I’d definitely not put you in the power metal bracket. “We can pretty much play with anyone; if we play with a thrash band we’ve got plenty of thrashy songs we can play, but we’ve got hair metal and AOR type material too”.
That’s a pretty good summation right there, as I think we said in our review of the album that the material on Stand in the Fire covers ground from Skid Row to Anthrax!
Moving away from the album to more general matters, Canada is very much like Australia in terms of its size and the comparative remoteness of its population centres. How hard have you found it to go from being local act to national act, and then making the jump to being an international touring outfit? Are those two leaps in stature similar, or harder (or indeed easier) to achieve? “We didn’t really approach it like that. We got together, wrote some stuff, did a demo, a friend in Europe heard it and we put out an EP (Road Warrior, which came out on German label Iron Kodex in 2009), so we’ve never really gone through what you mentioned”.
Looking forward to Mexico? You’re following hot on the heels of Iron Maiden who played there last week. It’s a metal-mad country! “I’m really looking forward to it!” Have you played there before? “No. I’ve never been there before. The other guys have all been, but only to resorts and stuff. It’ll be great!”
You’re really taking it to the streets with this album which begs the question: Any chance of a few Australian dates somewhere along the line? “We’re trying really hard to put something together in China, Japan and Australia, so hopefully, yes, we’re aiming at getting to Australia this year”.
This is undoubtedly exciting news, but until these dates are confirmed, make sure you get yourself fully appraised of the splendid Stand in the Fire. You won’t regret it, I promise you.